Forget ‘Anything’: Trans TV shows and movies to get hyped for in 2018
Last week saw the release of Timothy McNeil’s Anything – a controversial drama based on the director’s play of the same name, about a heartbroken widower who moves to Hollywood where he meets and falls for his charming neighbor, a trans sex worker named Freda. Heavily debated before the picture even hit the screen, it wasn’t just the storyline that got people talking – it was McNeill’s decision to cast cisgender actor Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart) for the role of Freda.
Faced with criticism from the LGBTQI community and beyond, the critics are now citing the same issue. IndieWire’s review noted how Bomer’s swishy transgender caricature completely distracts from his performance. “It’s a double shame, as the story of a widower who moves to Hollywood after a suicide attempt is told with enough warmth and precision that Anything might have been a halfway decent movie with a transgender actress in the role.”
Whether you agree with the opinion or you think Bomer is a good choice for the role, we think there are plenty of other upcoming films and TV shows featuring trans stories that are far more deserving of your time. Here are FD’s picks of the top trans movies and shows to look forward to in 2018:
Eisha Marjara’s heartwarming dramedy has been doing the rounds on the festival circuit, telling the story of a transitioning woman (Debargo Sanyal) who discovers that she’s the parent of a 14-year-old boy (Jamie Mayers). One of the reasons the film has received such high praise so far is that it breaks the tropes of trans stories we’ve seen time and time again up to this point. Typically things don’t often go too well for transgender characters in films, and so a narrative that focuses on a trans woman so lovingly is worth noting. As Slashfilm put it, it’s a queer story that doesn’t wallow in the misery of its protagonist. “What’s more, it exists at the nexus of Canada’s queer and Punjabi-immigrant cultures, bringing with it not only a whole host of quirks, but the requisite nuances therein.”
Pose – S1
Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) is set to make history with his upcoming FX show Pose for featuring the largest LGBTQI cast ever for a scripted television series, along with a groundbreaking total of five trans actors in series regular roles. The eight-episode 80s-set musical is a dramatization of the queer New York City scene and the Trump-era decadence that existed in stark juxtaposition to it. Quite frankly, we can’t wait for its release – June 1 on FX, bitches. Get it in the datebook!
A stunning coming-of-age drama, director Lukas Dhont’s Girl premiered this week at Cannes 2018 to a warm reception. The story centers on Lara – a 15-year-old girl, born in the body of a boy, who dreams of becoming a ballerina. While many are debating whether a cisgender actor (Victor Polster) should have been cast as the lead, Dhont has been praised for his arrestingly empathetic debut. IndieWire’s review noted, “Few narrative dramas (if any) have more sensitively explored the nuances of growing up transgender, the bravery required to transition, and the struggle for self-acceptance that can motivate or define that process.”
Transparent – S5
To say Jill Soloway’s Amazon series has had its fair share of controversy would be an understand. Not only was the decision to cast the cisgender Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) for the lead role – as a father who makes the transition into a woman during the later years of his life – faced with much debate (make of that what you will), but Tambor was also recently booted off the show amid a series of sexual misconduct claims. Controversy aside, the show is beautifully written, presenting dysfunctional family dynamics with sweetness, sadness, and hilarity. As Slate pointed out, Soloway “made an effort to involve trans and gender-nonconforming people in the show’s creative process,” and we can’t wait to see what Transparent’s got in store for its recently announced season five.
From one of the boldest filmmakers of our time (and one who certainly does not shy away from breaking taboos), Bruce LaBruce’s The Misandrists centers around a radical feminist liberation army group and an injured male leftist who is being secretly hidden in the basement of their remote stronghold. The movie features a great transgender plotline that tackles the ideas of what happens when feminists don’t believe transgender females are “real” women. Speaking on the upcoming film, LaBruce told Film Daily, “the movie is politically sympathetic, you might say, to the essentialist ideals of Big Mother, but it also appreciates women-only communities that accept transgender people as women.”